Autism Series: Reflection

Posted by Joanne Ma on

This is the first diary entry we have that was not submitted by a mama. In fact, it was submitted by a young adult with autism. Someone who has amazingly put into words what it feels like living with autism. As you read this, you'll be incredibly amazed at the details and self imagery that has been portrayed. Even more so is the self awareness that occurred near the end.

Most individuals with autism will get "stuck" on a situation and replay it over and over again. A tendency that happens when anxiety is high. Coping strategies and generalization of social-communication skills can help reduce the anxiety but it requires a lot of problem solving skills. Something that does not come naturally, especially in unfamiliar scenarios. Interestingly enough, most of us also feel this way. In fact, we probably ALL feel a little bit of anxiety when we are not in a familiar situation. It happens. It's how our body and mind protects itself. It kicks in a sense of "defence" which then helps us react to our environment in order to "survive." So really, we are all the same. Some folks just have a little harder time based on the chemistry of their bodies. Let's try and open our minds and hearts a little bit to see that we have more in common than the differences we see on the surface.  





I thought I knew my place here,

But that was only a disguise,

To make out like I wasn’t scared

That someone would judge me,

More importantly that if you walked away,

It wouldn’t hurt me that much.


When I looked in the mirror to confront myself,

I didn’t know who the girl who stood before me was,

I had to think about it.

And I am still not over it;

I never wanted to cause you pain.

Please know that I am truly sorry.


I knew that if it was really me,

Who I faced in the mirror,

Then I should be proud of my achievements,

But all I see is failure,

And flaws, which everyone—except myself

Can interpret.


It’s not easy to be the girl who doesn’t fit in,

The one that you ask to leave

Whenever she asks to join in,

And play the games,

You assumed were appropriate.


And maybe I am that person,

Who doesn’t know boundaries,

And just how her actions affect other people.

When I make a mistake,

I will gladly own up to it.

And I hope you see that this is not easy.

I don’t see my reflection staring back at me

When I look in the mirror.


If I turn around and look at you,

I want you to realize that I am sorry,

And that the way I behaved

Is a false perception of who I am.

It’s not me who says these thing,

But rather my subconscious,

Telling me what I should not say,

But still need to communicate.


The reflection of my past is a reflection

Of who I am

And the person I fear that I have become.

I wouldn’t have to numb the pain,

If it were my real reflection staring back at me

To make out like I wasn’t scared

That my friends would follow in your path,

And that my apologies weren’t enough,

To show that I was truly sorry.


As I look at my reflection in the mirror,

I don’t see the same girl staring back at me.

In fact, all I see is fear,

And someone who is so misunderstood,

By what people cannot say and admit to knowing

And feeling—more importantly understanding,

Just how misleading our words can be.


I thought that if I apologized for hurting you,

The pain would go away,

But it only continued to manifest,

And what I was left with was a

False perception of who I was.

This will always be my deepest regret.


Eventually my wrongdoings

Came back to bite me,

I wish the reflection in the mirror

Was of someone I recognized,

And highly respected.

But, I can’t be that person for myself,

I can’t bear to acknowledge the pain I put you through.


When everyone else walked away,

Something deep inside of me kicked in,

And I came to the realization that I was at fault,

I should have listened to you,

Rather than lashing out.


To me you we’re just playing games,

Yet, in your opinion,

All you were trying to do was assert yourself.

And I am not quite ready to face the reality,

Of how others perceive me,

And the person I wish I had not become.


Deep down inside of me,

I knew that acting out was wrong,

I could tell by the look on your face that you were hurt,

That’s when I wanted things to end.

But, right now I am still confronting my mistakes,

And I know how I should have behaved

To avoid having watch you walk away.


Sometimes, the truth hurts,

And what I thought you knew,

You’ll never understand.

And if you would just look at me,

Maybe you would see the pain,

That still haunts me.

And the reflection that doesn’t suit me.


It’s not easy to be defined,

By a false illusion,

That people created,

Just because of the mistakes you made.

And the things you said just to ease your anxiety.

When I see you,

At times I want to run and hide,

Because, who you see now,

Is not how I want to be perceived.


It feels like it’s too late to apologize,

And correct my mistakes.

But if I could,

I would say that I am sorry,

And promise that

I would respect your opinion.


Words are the utmost confusing thing for me,

More so social interactions,

And the person I wish I wasn’t,

I fear I have become,

And you know that doesn’t sit well with me.


When I should have said I was sorry,

I lashed out,

Because I was afraid that you would judge me.

And who you see right in front of you,

I hope is a true reflection of how you should perceive me.


However, I don’t know how we will ever

Get to a phase where you will completely trust me,

And I no longer feel a need to pretend to be someone

And something I am not.

It’s not easy when your reflection,

Doesn’t match your personality.

And what you see in front of you,

Is pain and the fact that people continue,

To ridicule you.



I will admit;

I am the girl who doesn’t know boundaries,

And now more than ever,

I wish I could turn things around,

And make you see that this is destroying me.

And that what you saw at first

Was a false perception of who I am

I am not the type of person who wants to be

Judged for her mistakes.


Rather than lashing out,

I wish that you would come talk to me,

And that maybe eventually we could sort this out.

You know that I get scared when you

Say I have crossed your boundaries.

I don’t want you to hate me.


Maybe that’s something I don’t understand,

And the one thing that bothers you the most,

When I do assert myself,

I hope you understand;

I am not lashing out.


What I see is a reflection of how

I do not want you to perceive me.

And I never wanted ends to end in misery,

And anxiety that still continues to haunt me.


This is no longer a game to me,

And if you assert your opinion,

I promise that for once,

I will listen.

Please know that I am sorry.


But I don’t know if you will believe me,

I don’t know if I can turn my reflection

Into something real.

And someone you would respect

Rather than assuming that I am not listening to you.


I am the girl whose reflection doesn’t suit her personality,

And what you see in front of you

Is a false perception of who you thought I was.

I really hope that we can make amends.

So, I wait for your response,

And I wait for my reflection to match my personality.


That’s really all that matters to me

I need my reflection to match my personality,

I need people to understand that this is who I am.

I need my reflection to match my personality

In order to feel real—and be that important

That understood—and that serious.

More than anything, I need my reflection to match my personality.


I am ashamed of my own behaviour,

Haunted by mistakes I cannot fix.

It’s more so about how I perceive myself,

Rather than how you perceive me.

It’s a risk I am taking,

And how I deal with it, which should

Matter the most.


What am I supposed to do if I continually mess up?

How do you want me to act?

I know you may perceive me as annoying,

And I know the words I should not say,

But only continue to say in vain.


When will I finally feel alive?

And when will my reflection that real

That important; that noticed;

That appropriate; that needed;

That wanted; and that special.
I need my reflection to match my personality,

And for you to realize that this is who I am.

It’s your loss if you don’t want to understand,

It’s mine if I don’t admit that this is a false

Perception of how you should perceive me.

This a fight within myself—

This isn’t who I choose to be.


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